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Do you remember how some scientists, researchers, and individuals like Bill Gates were trying to release genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment? Well, that endeavor isn’t quite over. Two towns in Northern Australia have recently been gifted with 10-20 thousand genetically engineered mosquitoes – almost completely replacing mosquitoes naturally occurring in the outdoors.
Although the mosquitoes released are still GM, they aren’t exactly the same as the more well-known mosquitoes developed my Oxitec. Oxitec is a British company responsible for the creation of the genetically engineered mosquitoes containing a gene designed to kill themselves unless given an antibiotic known as tetracycline. The company created this internally manipulated insect to help control agricultural pests and reduce insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria.
These new mosquitoes released in Australia, however, are developed with a slightly different strategy. A bacterium named Wolbackiapipientis infects numerous insects species, and harnesses the ability to alter it’s hosts reproductive ability. When this happens, entire populations become infected within generations, and when the bacterium infects mosquitoes, the mosquitoes’ ability to pass on the dengue virus vanishes
Unfortunately, no peer-reviewed scientific proof of the safety of such biotechnologies can be offered. Long-term effects have not been at all measured, and once these insects are released, they can not be recalled. Here are but a few of the questions and issues regarding GM mosquitoes (or any GM insect for that matter).
•Will Oxitec need to acquire the free and informed consent of residents in Key West for the release of the GM mosquitoes? With the previous release of the mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands there was no public consultation taken on potential risks and informed consent was not given from locals.
•What could happen to the ecosystem and local food chain with the major decrease in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population?
•Tetracycline, the antibiotic Oxitec’s genetically engineered mosquitoes are supposed to have no contact with, is showing up in the environment. With tetracycline being present in the wild, these GE mosquitoes would survive and thrive.
•Mosquitoes can develop resistance to the lethal gene inputted by Oxitec. In fact, 3.5 percent of the insects survived to adulthood in laboratory tests despite carrying the lethal gene, according to Todd Shelly, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department in Hawaii.
•0.5 percent of the released insects are female (the gender which bites humans); what happens to humans if bitten by the female mosquitoes?
•Who regulates releases, and who will be responsible in the event of complications – to any degree?
Bill Gates, who recently bought 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock, is reportedly funding the approval of genetically modified mosquitoes. It seems that not only will genetically modified salmon enter the environment along with unforeseen changes, but a new self-sterilizing mosquito may be joining them.
The plan, concocted by United Nations’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, involves creating genetically modified mosquitoes that either kill or sterilize themselves.The United Nations’ aim is to combat Dengue fever through the genetic manipulation of nature.
They buzz very, very quietly. That infuriating high-pitched whirring that can rob you of your sleep on summer nights is not part of their repertoire. At this small laboratory near the English university town of Oxford, maintained at a steady 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), the mosquitoes emit no more than a light purr. Their victims can't hear them it until it's almost too late.
Originally posted by karen61057
reply to post by Nspekta
What does Bill Gates have to do with mosquitos ?
The only thing they should be genetically engineering are mosquitos that self distruct upon emergence from the water. Really, can someone tell me why these insects are necessary ? Bird food ? There are millions of other flying bugs the birds can eat.
Opponents to the experimentation say such plans could leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases. If we remove an insect like the mosquito from the ecosystem, we don't know what the impact will be," said Pete Riley, campaign director of GM Freeze, a British non-profit group that opposes genetic modification, according to the ABC report from the Caymans.